Northern Kenya Leaders from the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL), Thursday, affirmed the formation of UPYA Movement, a political grouping, aimed at uniting residents from ASAL areas to articulate a common political position, socio-economic investment and development in the region.
Cabinet Secretary (CS), Ministry of National Treasury and Planning, Ukur Yatani, said the movement will bring together like-minded leaders, keen on seeing ASAL areas develop as an integral part of the Country.
Yatani who was speaking at a press briefing on behalf of Northern Kenya Leaders who had gathered in Nairobi, said the movement will provide ASAL areas with a unified and powerful voice at the national level and urged all leaders in the region to embrace the new model of compassionate leadership known as ‘Uongozi wa utu’.
“Reflecting together as ASAL leaders and people from ASAL area, we will ensure that unity of purpose remains fundamental to the future hopes and aspirations of the communities in the region,” he said.
Yatani reflected on the collective contributions to development of the country, noting that despite the region constituting a vast land mass with a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and culturally diverse population, it has suffered from political and socio-economic marginalization over the years.
“Unless leaders from the region speak with a united voice, there is likelihood that the socio-economic emancipation of ASAL areas, will remain a mirage,” expressed Yatani.
In his address, Garissa County Senator, Mohamed Yusuf Haji, expressed that changing the tides of marginalization under which ASAL areas have labored, requires establishing a strong political movement that can galvanize the number, negotiate with like-minded regional political leaders and bargain for inclusion of the ASAL areas agenda at the national level.
Haji acknowledged that while times and political realities have changed, the interests of the community is central and paramount to the UPYA movement.
The Senator affirmed that development is a key issue, as the region still lags behind in infrastructure.
“Much more still remains to be done in order to alleviate the effect of decades of systematic marginalization, development remains the priority of the region’s national and county leaders,” said Haji.
The Senator said the region is in dire need of increased investment in livestock production and marketing as well as affirmative action for the youth and women in the areas of education, employment and business opportunities.
“National blueprint with meaningful input from the ASAL’s leadership is required to effectively deal with these regional challenges,” stressed Haji.